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Keeping Muscle From a Steroid Cycle

Why You Lose Most Of What You Gain

frank zane steroidsIt’s a vicious cycle.  No , that's not a reference to an awesome steroid cycle. It’s the 'going around in circles' process of using anabolics, losing the gains, using them again, and losing the gains again.

When you do a Steroid cycle. You’re looking to improve your look.  When the Steroids kick in, you see the improvement day after day. You get closer to achieving the body you imagined. But what goes up must come down.  And a month after the cycle is over it seems as if you’ve hardly  made any progress from when you started and you start to wonder if it was worth all the work, effort and strain on the body from the side effects of the drugs.

There’s also a psychological  factor.   You not only went from having super powers to being back to normal, but since your own HPTA (hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis) has been compromised you can actually have lower androgen levels, leaving you weak, lethargic and with a suppressed libido, leading to depression.

prolactin hpta

Fig 1. HPTA Diagram

Why does this happen? There are several reasons, some obvious, some not so  much.  Once the drugs that impart strength and retain nitrogen are no longer in your body,  the benefits of a chemically enhanced state cease and muscle gains come to a halt.  But why would muscle be lost so soon? Muscle is muscle, right?  It should just “disappear” in a matter of weeks.  That’s the key that so many people miss.

For one thing, some gains aren’t actually muscle.  Blood volume makes up a big part of that “steroidal look.”  Muscles are fuller and more shapely. They seem to want to burst through the skin.  Vascularity is increased.  Once that blood volume is lost, so is the “look” of being “on”.

Another problem is that guys try to gain too much. If you gain 30 pounds of muscle, once you’re in a suppressed state following your cycle (even after PCT) the body simply isn’t capable of holding on to that much muscle.   Then again,  if you gained just 10 pounds of muscle, it may not sound like a lot but imagine what  10  pounds of meat looks like.  Now imagine that spread out throughout your body. You’d be lucky to have that and the truth of the matter is, you’re not holding on to a fraction of that without some help.  That’s where running a “Bridge” comes in.

“Bridging” is the process of using small doses of AAS in-between cycles to maintain those gains.  There’s just one small problem with bridging…it keeps the hormonal system compromised. You’re basically never off.   Not only is this unhealthy, it makes the next cycle less effective due to building up a tolerance to the drugs over time.

The concept of using a bridge is one of those ides that seems to make sense but just doesn’t work out in real life.  Still, a lot of people do it. Why?  Because the devastation of losing all you worked for is too much to bear.   But a comparison can be made to using anti-biotics. They can make you feel better and fight infection, but if you stayed on them for too long they stop working, PLUS, your natural ability to produce antibodies becomes weaker.

So it stands to reason that the best approach to making the most of  muscle gains  from a steroid cycle would be to get the body to do what it was doing while enhance, but to do it while in a natural state in between cycles.   That’s the tough part and requires considerable planning and application of the right substances.

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nelson montana
Written by
Nelson Montana is a classical bodybuilder and an industry expert. He was one of the first in the 1990s to write about bodybuilding. He's written for large magazines, like T-Nation and has been on multiple editorial boards. Nelson is a certified personal trainer, he has over 40 years of experience, and he's a senior bodybuilding champion, natural! He's over 60 and he looks amazing.

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